Dethroning Silva: Could one of these five fighters have what it takes

Anderson Silva (32-4) is the reigning UFC Middleweight Champion. He has been called “a mutant”, a “freak of nature” and “the greatest martial artist of all time”. With 15 straight wins in the UFC spanning over 6 years, the question I am most often asked by fans, fighters and fellow scribes is “What is it going to take for someone to defeat Anderson Silva?”

There is no quick or easy answer. A shift up and down to the wrong weight class could be his undoing, likewise age could start to catch up with him, but from the looks of things, the Spider shows no signs of slowing down.

Whenever someone is on top of their game, there is always a legion of challengers looking to take them down. In recent weeks, several have stated there intentions as well as rumors from Silva’s camp on who they want to see put in front of the champ. The following five fighters, for one reason or another have the makings of a great matchup: for either the skill against skill or the potential for rivalry such a match may bring.

Georges St. Pierre (22-2)
This is the only opponent that Silva’s camp has actually mentioned for a potential Superfight. According to his manager Jorge Guimaraes on the Brazilian website, Tatame: “No opponent makes sense for Anderson at this moment unless we do a catchweight against Georges St. Pierre. They didn’t offer the fight, but he’s the only one that could do a super fight. Anderson has the biggest paycheck in the UFC, and you can’t promote an event with these amateur kids that are coming up now”.
 
St. Pierre is currently still in the midst of rehabilitating his surgically repaired right knee and has a return date in November against interim Welterweight champion Carlos Condit. It is unlikely that St. Pierre would face Silva in his first fight back from an injury, as he has said that he would need about one year to put on the size and muscle to compete with Silva. Such a bout seems less likely to happen now, but from a pure fighter perspective has the potential to be the “Fight of the Century”.

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Jon Jones (16-1)
Jon “Bones” Jones is only a few weeks away from defending his title against Dan Henderson. Jones’ style would mix well with Silva, but the Light Heavyweight Champion has not mentioned any interest in such a bout. Just last week, Alistair Overeem said of a potential fight between Jones and Silva: “I spoke to Jon. He said, ‘No, I don’t want to fight him because he’s my mentor’, this and that. So, that fight is not going to happen. Unfortunately for the fans, and unfortunately for me because I would like to see that.”

Silva likewise told UFC President Dana White that he has no interest in moving up to Light Heavyweight to challenge current champion Jon Jones in a Superfight. Still, this match has historic potential and like a potential bout with St. Pierre, I would want to see it as a catchweight, just to see which of them is “the best”.

Rashad Evans (17-2-1)
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans threw his hat into the ring, or in this case the Octagon by tweeting directly to Zuffa CEO and Co-owner of the UFC, Lorenzo Fertitta:

Evans is truly one of the few Light Heavyweights that could match Silva in speed, power and technique. As stated earlier, Silva told White that he has no interest in moving up in weight class, but Evans could easily move down. Evans has said in the past the only fight he would drop to Middleweight to have is against “The Spider.”

Evans has the takedown ability to push Silva like Sonnen did. By the same token, Evans has the stand-up ability to match Silva on his feet; however, he would be more likely to put Silva on his back and use a heavy wrestling-based strategy superior to Sonnen’s. It may not be “Fight of the Century” territory, but it has strong potential to be a great bout.

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Nick Diaz (26-8-1)
According to a post on graciefighter.com by Cesar Gracie, a fight against St. Pierre is the last thing on Diaz’s mind: “As far as future opponents, Nick has stated that he would like to take fights ‘that matter’. Since GSP will be fighting Condit, he has to look elsewhere. He will respectfully ask for a fight with Anderson Silva, a fighter he respects and would like to challenge. Silva’s camp has been speaking of a fight with GSP, possibly even at a catchweight. Nick will take that fight in a minute but has told me that should Silva decide not to drop at all, he will move up to 185lbs to face the Champ.”

These two personalities clashing inside and outside of the Octagon has the potential to be as big as Silva vs. Sonnen 2. As for the fight itself, Silva would negate Diaz’s reach advantage. Diaz is a capable boxer, but lacks the KO power needed to finish Silva. His ground game is respectable, but Silva is one of the most accurate strikers in UFC history. This fight would definitely be a crowd pleaser.

Chris Weidman (9-0)
After finishing Mark Munoz by way of KO in the second round at UFC on Fuel TV, in which he was the headliner, Weidman took particular offense to Guimaraes’ comment of him being an “amateur” or “a joke”: “I read them and it’s kind of crazy. The managers they have no right to start putting down professional athletes. He put me, Belcher, and Boetsch down and he’s trying to draw attention away from the fact that I’m the Number One contender, and then called us amateurs, and we’re all top ten fighters. This is what we do for a living and then you have some manager in Brazil who’s calling us amateur fighters and calls me a joke, it’s definitely a little crazy and I know I wouldn’t want my manager speaking about other fighters like that. It’s like they’re trying to avoid my name being mentioned at all for the title shot. They’re trying to deflect with other guy’s names so people can start thinking about them as possibilities, but even guys they’re choosing to call out like GSP or  Diaz, they’re both welterweights. I feel like I’ve made it blatantly obvious with this last fight that I’m ahead of the pack. The champ should want to fight that guy.”

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The main concern raised by Silva’s camp is that Weidman is not as well-known or outspoken as Chael Sonnen. Although he may be undefeated, the perception is that he has not paid his dues as a fighter yet. There may be some merit to that; with a record of 9-0, 5 of his victories have been from inside the Octagon. Silva has three times that many in his win column inside the UFC and has never faced another fighter in the UFC with less than 21 fights behind them. I think he could be ready in as little as 2 more quality fights against quality opponents, provided he keeps his record unblemished.

So what do you think Lowkickers? While most of these fights may be left to fantasy and speculation, which one fighter might succeed where so many others have failed in dethroning Silva? If not one from this list, is there another contender who can move up or down? Will it make for an interesting matchup, but no real challenge to Silva? Let us hear your thoughts.